When traveling, it has always been the mosaics that have captivated me – especially Byzantine art with religious themes and lots of gold. I had the wonderful opportunity to work as an apprentice for Nall Hollis at the N.A.L.L. Art Association in Vence, France. Nall’s body of work and approach to so many different types of mediums has had the greatest influence upon my style and pinpointing exactly what inspires me when I create. Having an opportunity to work with an internationally recognized artist while being immersed in a different culture with other artists from around the world – changed my life and my appreciation as to what it means to be an artist. Through my study with Nall, I had an opportunity to look at mosaic in a non-traditional way and that started me down a path of figuring out different ways I could incorporate other mixed media.
To me, the materials I get to work with are the best part of creating. I think every object has its own story to tell and I enjoy finding ways to repurpose antiques and architectural fragments to bring them back to life. Each piece is an opportunity to bring my favorite things together- Italian mosaic, seashells, gems and minerals, antiques, photographs, paintings, mirrors, metallic lace, ribbons - you name it.
The Orsoni family is one of the very few remaining producers today of traditional, authentic smalti and it is Orsoni that set the standard by which all smalti is judged. Since 1888, Orsoni smalti has handmade in the family factory in Venice, Italy using traditional techniques and guarded family 'recipes'.
Orsoni's mosaic gold is real 24- carat gold. With just one cubic centimeter of gold, more than six square meters of beaten gold may be produced in a layer so fine that it is scarcely perceptible to the human eye. The gold leaf is then sandwiched between a transparent glass base and a fine, hand-blown glass that protects the surface. The three elements, heated once again, are welded into a single slab.
The gold mosaic is my favorite choice because it reminds me of religious art and some of the most beautiful churches in the world. Saint Mark's Basilica in Venice is one of the best known examples of Byzantine architecture and mosaics and has the nickname Chiesa d'Oro ("church of gold") because of the elaborate gold mosaic domes. The amount of gold and the detail in the mosaics is mind blowing. I love to use the different hues of gold in my pieces as an accent and to make pieces resemble an icon.
ANTIQUE CEILING TILES AND RECLAIMED WOOD
Most of my pieces incorporate antique ceiling tiles as frames - these ceiling tiles are typically from the late 1800’s and have been salvaged in the US. I also try and use architectural wood fragments, reclaimed wood and wood moldings in my pieces. I especially love using wood capitals for the base of my selenite crosses- each one is unique and their age gives them character.
GEMSTONES AND MINERALS
I have been collecting geodes, gems and minerals since I was little. I always made my mom take me to the annual Gem and Mineral Show when it was in town. Amethyst is my birthstone and I use it in a lot of my works. I am always amazed by the natural beauty the world creates - especially when you crack open a dusty geode and find sparkling druzy quartz inside. I will buy boxes of geodes and my daughter and I will crack them in the driveway with a hammer.
Celestite features sky blue crystals and is known for its calming and uplifting properties. Celestite means “celestial” or “heavenly” and is said to allow communication with guardian angels. This gemstone is typically kept in the bedroom to invite angels into the space and promote restful sleep.
Selenite is a form of gypsum. Named for the Greek moon goddess Selene, selenite promotes a peaceful environment by cleansing negativity in all forms and purifying the environment. Selenite is considered a mineral that radiates divine light and is used to cleanse and charge other gemstones.
Amethyst is a violet variety of quartz. According to the Romans, wearing the stone aided in controlling passions and lust. In Greek, amethyst means “not intoxicate” a reference to the belief that the stone protected its owner from drunkenness. Amethyst represents royalty and spirituality and was highly prized by the Christian Church. Amethyst crystals are said to bring you creativity, perception, self-knowledge, and insight.
Ancient Greeks called it krystallos which means “clear ice.” As the most common and abundant mineral in the world, quartz crystal has been used by countless cultures in diagnostic healing, meditations and spiritual development, as religious objects and in funerary rites, and to dispel evil and magical enchantments. Believed to be an incredibly diverse healing tool, crystal quartz is known to open the mind and heart to higher guidance.
Rutilated Quartz is a transparent Quartz with golden yellow Rutile inclusion s that are in hairlike growths. It was once believed that rutilated quartz was created when an angel looked too closely at a forming quartz crystal and her golden hair was forever trapped within the stone. Rutilated Quartz is said to emit a clarifying radiance that lifts the spirit.
The lore surrounding pearls is full of luster and magic. Romans believed pearls were associated with the goddess of love, Venus, and were regularly dissolved for use in love potions.